+ CLOSE

A sure fire way for me to discredit a property is to see it at Number 1 on Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor can be handy for some things, but for the most part, the top ranking tells me that it’s either beloved of the mediocre masses, or full of reviews from one-review reviewers with less than one degree of separation from the establishment in question. It’s all about statistics. Quite often my “hidden gems” will be at number 127 on Tripadvisor – exactly because they are hidden gems.

Still, it looked pretty nice on the web and for a trip with extended family, a two bedroom suite seemed ideal, if suspiciously inexpensive.

We arrived too late at night to take in much. When we awoke on our first day, it was about 5am in Bangkok – nothing opens here until around 10am. So we walked a block down to green and gorgeous Lumphini Park, strolling through the shaded avenues as elderly Thai practised their Tai Chi around us and monitor lizards started to rouse themselves, like miniature dinosaurs. We then took a cab across town to Thanon Yaowarat, one of the most frenetic Chinatowns in the world. We bought roasted chestnuts, fresh pomegranate juice, visited a shrine, bought cheap plastic toys and Superhero Costumes and squeezed down the snaking, populous alleyway which was enough like a Blade Runner set by day, even more so by night.

After the frenzy of the morning, it was lovely to come and relax in our white and spacious haven.  The Oriental Residence was hard to fault. The shortest way to say it: if you’re travelling with kids, you would be hard pressed to find a better set up. You’ll get a washing machine, a coffee maker, two toilets, three plasma screens, four person table and so on. Like the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

So what stood out for me? Amazingly cushy beds. Spotlessness. Fresh flowers and beautiful fruit in the rooms. Thoughtful touches like housekeeping turning the shower into the wall, so that when you turn it on you don’t feel like a prisoner being given the fire hose treatment. Great views over the surrounding green oasis and the city beyond. The service was faultless, and our lovely doorman at one stage gently stopped me from tipping a taxi driver 50 SGD instead of 50 THB.

There is a French-style café on site but being a street foodie, I preferred to walk down to the stalls next to Lumphini park. I realised I needed to brush up my Thai language skills though when a wizened woman manning a wok called loudly to me: “Cow pat!” Not sure if she was name-calling or offering me a new delicacy, I looked bemusedly at her. She pointed at her wok and called again “Fly lice?”. I knew of the Thai penchant for fried insects but being a mother, I usually associate lice with small-toothed combs and harsh chemicals. I peered into the wok to see her tossing a mix of rice, tomato, spring onion, and egg together. Fried rice. Khao Pad. It was delicious.

So aside from the excitement of street food at your doorstep, the facilities and location of the Oriental Residence were good – it’s a block or so to Ploen Chit skytrain station, and when you get back from wherever you’ve been, you can take a dip in the lovely swimming pool (deliciously chilled), snuggle up in a rattan pod or cabana or indulge in a competitive game of Bebefoot in The Playroom. My only negative comment would be that the Residences are almost too immaculate  and very slightly soulless. Bear in mind though that I’ve had an ongoing love affair with The Peninsula for years now, so my point of comparison is somewhat skewed.  For the price however, these are very hard to beat – Five Star luxury at Three Star prices.

Phew – I’ve just noticed it’s dropped down to Number 3 on Tripadvisor. Credibility restored.